Quo Vadis, Israel? – author interview – H. Peter Nennhaus

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Paperback Writer is pleased to announce our author today, Peter Nennhaus, author of Quo Vadis, Israel? A retired surgeon and Illinois resident, H. Peter Nennahaus was raised in Berlin and became a U.S. citizen in 1961. He is the author of Boyhood, the 1930s and World War II, Memories, Comments and Views from the Other Side. Among his various interests, the study of the history of the 20th century, the Holocaust, and anti-Semitism has been a persistent focus.



Quo Vadis, Israel Synopsis:


The State of Israel has been involved in persistent belligerence ever since its birth. The world has come to view Israel with disappointment and deep concern. Nennhaus addresses the dwindling probability if it’s ever achieving genuine peace. In view of the higher birthrate of Israeli Arabs, he also questions its permanence as an ethnically Jewish homeland.

Pointing to the never-ending tragedy that has befallen the Holy Land with its wars, bombings and intifadas and the failure of the great powers for the past sixty years to find a solution to the crisis, he fears, a few generations from now, the ultimate demise of the Jewish dream of Zionism.
He confronts this dark prognosis with a revolutionary new concept, which would transplant Israel to a more suitable land in Europe. That land is the Kaliningrad Territory, which borders on the southern Baltic coast and is part of the Russian Federation. It is a land, which due to exceptional circumstances, described in detail in the book, may be available for purchase from Russia and, unclaimed by any other country, would provide a permanent, safe haven for a Jewish homeland. While such a radical move appeared far-fetched and unrealistic at first sight even to the author, further research has revealed strong arguments in its favor, which are fascinating and which the reader will find plausible and compelling.




Hi Peter.


Welcome to Paperback Writer.


Would you share with us how you came up with the idea for your book? 


How did I come up with such a bizarre idea of transplanting Israel to the Baltic area?  By serendipity, I guess.  I received a report about the abominable conditions in that piece of land at the southern Baltic coast, which used to belong to the province called East Prussia and since 1945 has been part of the Soviet Union/ the Russian Federation. I have been increasingly concerned about the fate of Israel and so the thought occurred, almost by reflex, how wonderful would it have been, for the Israelis and for this land, had the State of Israel been created in 1948 here instead of in Palestine.  No other country has a claim to this area, certainly not Poland or Lithuania, so there would be nobody ever to say again, “you stole our land from us!”  It was of course idle musing and I dismissed the thought.  But it came back day after day.  Could one bring Israel up there now, sixty years later?  That was even more foolish and I dismissed it too.  After about ten days of dismissing a foolish dream, I decided to give in and to do a little research in order to prove once and or all that the idea was absurd, crazy and preposterous.  To my surprise, my lengthy investigation proved exactly the opposite. 



Was it a light bulb moment or something that you thought about for a very long time?


It was a light bulb moment if there ever was one.  A passing pipe dream it was at first but it quickly lit up brightly and did not want to go away.  It was as if I had found a piece of gold without looking.  I took it to the lab, if you will, and it turned out to be exactly that: gold.



How did you come up with the title?


Quo Vadis is a question well known to the older ones among us.  A hundred years ago, the Polish writer and Nobel Price winner Henryk Sienkevicz wrote a book entitled “Domine, quo vadis?”, meaning “Lord, where are You going?” It entered the vernacular of many languages and people used it to inquire about an uncertain future.  It was perfect to describe the concern about Israel’s future expressed in the book.



How did you find an agent and publisher?


With great difficulty.  Roughly a dozen publishers declined to accept it.  I then sent the query to an equal number of agents with the same result.  It was time consuming since one has to wait for months for the reply.  Meanwhile, however, I doctored the text again and again and it became better in the process.  Finally I learned about the demand publisher Outskirts Press whose people know what they are doing.  They were most helpful and made it all possible at an acceptable price.



Who reads your work in progress?


I gave up on seeking help by asking friends to review the text.  I did that in the past and was disappointed by the aid they gave.  I guess they are busy otherwise, are not tuned in to my writings and go off on unhelpful tangents. 



Who made a difference in the book’s quality?


I wish I had such assistants but if your subject is as off-the-chart as this one you are pretty much on your own.



How long did it take you to complete the first draft?


My research took from October 2005 till May 2006.  The writing was complete in August.



How long did it take from start to publication?


About two years.  But this includes about ten months of unsuccessfully looking for a publisher.



Do you have any advice for new authors?


In non-fiction, the excellence of research is essential.  The writing itself is like painting a picture.  It’s an art.  The first strokes are often wrong.  Keep adding and subtracting until you think it’s perfect.


Thank you, Peter for stopping by Paperback Writer on your virtual book tour. I wish you continued success through the rest of you tour.


QUO VADIS, ISRAEL VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ’08 will officially begin on April 1, 2008 and continue all month. If you would like to follow Peter’s tour, visit http://www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/ in April. Leave a comment on his blog stops and become eligible to win a free copy at the end of his tour! One lucky winner will be announced on this blog on April 30!






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